Arthouse

THE WOUND (INXEBA)

Director
John Trengove
(HOPEVILLE)

Stars
Nakhane Tourè, Niza Jay Ncoyini and Bongile Mantsai

The most internationally awarded film in South African history has been subject to plenty of controversy in the lead up to its cinematic release. Several screenings of THE WOUND have been forcibly cancelled in its homeland, due to threats of violence and damage to property. So what’s the cause for its controversy? 

In a double-whammy for protesters of this film, THE WOUND is exhibiting to the world the very private and traditional Xhosa initiation into manhood as it deals with the theme of sexuality led by gay male characters. 

Celebrated singer, songwriter and novelist, Nakhane Touré, makes his screen acting debut as Xolani, a factory worker living in Queenstown who is sent to the rural Eastern Cape to be the caregiver for a new initiate named Kwanda (Niza Jay Ncoyini). The initiate’s father has a private word with Xolani, requesting him to be tough on his son, who he feels is becoming a softie due to the gentle treatment given by his mother. Throughout the course of the lengthy initiation process, Xolani struggles to mask his sexual identity from his observant initiate.

 Almost the entire hour and a half duration of THE WOUND is set throughout the several phases that consist of this traditional induction into manhood. As such and as very much intended, viewers will feel equally uncomfortable, fascinated and disturbed by the honest insights that have been bravely derived from the screenplay. Most of this footage is filmed with the use of handheld and effectively-controlled cinematography that truly captures a feeling of isolation within its confines its lead characters undoubtedly feel. What is also equally effective are the genuine performances from the main members of the cast, most of whom are first-time actors that had direct experiences of this initiation!

This incredibly courageous film not only accumulated a record-breaking nineteen award wins from worldwide film festivals it screened at, it was also shortlisted as one of nine films to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Academy Awards. Though it was cut from the final list of nominees, THE WOUND has loudly, clearly and successfully utilised the power of cinema by giving a triumphant voice to a minority who are not only silenced but completely denounced. Until now.

4 stars 

See THE WOUND if you liked MOONLIGHT

Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong themes and sex scenes)

Trailer
THE WOUND (INXEBA)

Moviedoc thanks In Character/Off Topic Entertainment for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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BEST & WORST MOVIES OF 2017 including the highlights and some low-lights

Hello everyone

Firstly, a huge thank you for every review you have read, liked, shared, commented on and even chatted to me about in person. Thanks to you and your incredible support, I had a very productive year of film watching and reviewing!

In total, I got to see and review 141 films officially released in 2017 alone, which is 15 more than I was able to see at this same time in 2016! Of these, more than 25 movies received a 4 star rating from me, so I have compiled a ‘Best 25’ list this year as well as a ‘Worst 5’.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy reading this post. I also hope you take away a handful of films to see that you’ve never previously heard of or watched!
As always, please get in touch to share your views and best & worst movies.

I look forward to your continued support and interaction in what will be an even bigger and busier year of film watching & reviewing in 2018, where I hope to review a monthly classic and bring a review or two fresh from my attendance at film festivals!

Moviedoc 🙂

Moviedoc’s Best 25 Movies of 2017

25
WONDER
4 stars

A beautiful and meaningful story featuring a great cast that will make you cry a little but feel plenty of joy

24
PADDINGTON 2
4 stars

As sweet as marmalade itself and a sequel that’s every bit as good, if not better, than the first film. Paddington is no one-trick teddy bear!

23
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
4 stars

Arguably and in my opinion, this is the best rendition of Batman, ever! Utterly hilarious at times and scores Moviedoc’s #1 spot (just!) for best family film of 2017!

22
INGRID GOES WEST 
4 stars

All at once, this is an uncomfortably funny, dreadfully saddening and downright frightening exposé of just how far a social media addiction and obsession can take a person. Highly recommended!

21
GIFTED
4 stars

A splendid drama! One of the most underrated films of 2017! If you haven’t already, it is time to unwrap this true gift of a film.

20
THE BIG SICK
4 stars

A broadly appealing and wholly accessible romantic comedy-drama that’s not only based on a true story but even stars one of the real-life subjects; stand-up comedian, actor and writer, Kumail Nanjiani

19
BABY DRIVER
4 stars

It’s been a solid year for heist movies and this is the best of them. Flawless car chase sequences and an outstanding music score drive this slick and unique heist film. Hopefully BABY DRIVER won’t lose popularity due to co-starring Kevin Spacey, for it absolutely deserves to be seen.

18
MISS SLOANE
4 stars

Enthralling! I’ve been told those who are into TV Series “House of Cards” will want to see this. Sorry for making another connection to Kevin Spacey!

17
FENCES

4 stars

Can be a challenge to watch, especially during the first half. However, Denzel Washington’s Oscar-nominated performance playing a character he’s portrayed on Broadway 114 times before and Viola Davis’s Oscar-winning acting are so stellar in a movie that becomes absolutely riveting

16
THE BEGUILED
4 stars

Beautifully filmed and impeccably acted by one of the stand-out ensemble casts of the year. An excellent film from director Sofia Coppola.

15
MOONLIGHT
4 stars

You haven’t seen a story quite like the one told in MOONLIGHT before. This is the Best Picture Winner at the 2017 Academy Awards earlier this year. Brave and heartfelt storytelling.

14
MOUNTAIN
4 stars

A majestic and breathtaking cinematic experience. The Australian-made MOUNTAIN is 2017’s best documentary feature.

13
THE SALESMAN
4 stars

This is acclaimed Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s (THE PAST, A SEPARATION) latest feature film. An immaculately devised and strongly executed domestic drama with a gripping finale.

12
DUNKIRK
4 stars

A minimalist war film that draws maximum anxiety and exacts a claustrophobic stranglehold over its viewers from start to end thanks largely to the ever-present score by Oscar-winning film composer, Hans Zimmer

11
HOUNDS OF LOVE
4 stars

A similar breed of film to 2011’s SNOWTOWN, HOUNDS OF LOVE is an unnerving and tense dramatic thriller that showcases an outstanding music score, cinematography and acting. The best Australian film of 2017.

10
LAND OF MINE
4 stars

An Oscar-nominated foreign film taking place after WWII, which depicts a group of very young German POWs sent to Denmark to clear thousands of hidden land mines. Stomach-turning tension is guaranteed.

9
LOVING VINCENT
4½ stars

The first-ever oil painted feature film about Vincent van Gogh is never solely limited to its visual capabilities. A sublime film.

8
SILENCE
4½ stars

Martin Scorsese’s passion project and three-hour epic is a bravely written piece that is expertly penned toward the most religiously devout. A near-masterpiece.

7
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
4½ stars

The PLANET OF THE APES film series is now officially one of my favourites, if not my absolute favourite film franchise. Combines mesmerising CGI and cinematography with a powerful and relevant story that has a strong message for humankind. I just love it!

6
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
4½ stars

The storytelling structure, its well-studied account of key themes and the honesty of its writing and character depiction achieves MANCHESTER BY THE SEA A-grade status.

5
PERFECT STRANGERS
4½ stars

What happens when a close-knit group of friends meet for dinner and share every text message, email and phone call received with one another? You will want to find out! Italian comedy PERFECT STRANGERS features one of the most cleverly conceived and carefully-considered screenplay’s of the year.

4
GET OUT
4½ stars

Movies as genius as this are few and far between. Masterfully and studiously crafted, intelligently written and flawlessly executed, GET OUT is a broadly appealing and accessible horror film at heart that functions as a menacing mystery invite to all. If you haven’t already, please accept your invitation, pronto! You will not regret it.

3
LADY MACBETH
4½ stars

Witness one of the most conceivably written, daring and exciting character transitions seen in recent years. This fierce, fearless and electrifying film turns the period drama genre on its head in near flawless fashion and is the breakout film for its star, Florence Pugh, who is scintillating. Unmissable!

2
DOWNSIZING
5 stars

The last film to receive 5 stars from me was THE HUNT in 2013! Well, it had to take something very special to break that lengthy drought. Simply put, you have never seen a film quite like DOWNSIZING before. It is extraordinary. I admired its continual refusal to yield to any form of mainstream cinema convention, despite being a mainstream-friendly release. It also unearths one of the truest & most beautifully conceived and written characters I’ve seen in any film. Hong Chau (from acclaimed TV Series Big Little Lies) is just superb as Ngoc Lan Tran, in what is one of this year’s acting highlights. Absolutely amazing in every way imaginable.

THE BEST MOVIE OF 2017

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME 
5 Stars

It took me until February, 2018 to see this sensual and picturesque masterpiece. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME not only met my high expectations, it by far exceeded them. This slow-building drama set in northern Italy during a hot summer in 1983 is so precise and honest yet powerfully subtle in its articulation of the complex emotions and sensitive scenarios involving its characters. It takes some time for the forthcoming relationship to develop, yet does so organically and in complete avoidance of all stereotypes. By the time its extraordinarily moving and meaningful finale arrives, CALL ME BY YOUR NAME simply overwhelms. The ultimate meaning and key themes of this beautifully produced film earn an equal amount of appreciation as the stunning production, stand-out score and immaculate performances achieve.

Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Moviedoc’s Worst 5 Movies of 2017

5
BAYWATCH
1 ½ stars

Not even the charismatic Dwayne Johnson can save BAYWATCH from drowning in its own dump.


4
CHIPS
1 ½ stars

Unfunny. Sexist. Nasty. Avoid!


3
JIGSAW
1 star

Jigsaw may do a Jesus by way of his resurrection, however he is certainly no saviour to the eternal damnation sentenced upon the viewer in this dreadful reboot. Now, please stay dead.

2
SNATCHED
1 star

Goldie Hawn should have remained in her fifteen-year movie hibernation. Terrible movie.

THE WORST MOVIE OF 2017

T H E  M U M M Y
1 star

An unacceptable first instalment in Universal’s rather forced Dark Universe film series that seemingly exists purely to rival Marvel and the like. Yet sadly, THE MUMMY still grossed $409.1 million worldwide, which means there’ll probably be more to come. A score of just 5.5 on IMDB and 16% on Rotten Tomatoes more than justifies why this utterly dreadful reboot is the worst of the 141 movies released this year I have seen.

Still with me? Good! Now we go to some highlights and low-lights of 2017

The acting stand-outs of 2017

Timothée Chalamet in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
Hong Chau – DOWNSIZING
Florence Pugh – LADY MACBETH
Emma Booth and Stephen Curry – HOUNDS OF LOVE
Naomie Harris – MOONLIGHT
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis – FENCES
Aubrey Plaza – INGRID GOES WEST
Teresa Palmer – BERLIN SYNDROME
Barry Keoghan – THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER
Sonia Braga – AQUARIUS
Oscar Isaac – SUBURBICON
Hugh Grant – PADDINGTON 2
John Lithgow and Salma Hayek – BEATRIZ AT DINNER
Nicole Kidman – THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER & THE BEGUILED
Dev Patel and Sunny Pawar – LION
Pierre Niney and Paula Beer – FRANTZ
Brian Cox – CHURCHILL
Jessica Rothe – HAPPY DEATH DAY
Tiffany Haddish – GIRLS TRIP
Sally Hawkins – MAUDIE
Hugo Weaving – JASPER JONES

Films to add to your watch list not in my Best 25 from 2017

PATRIOT’S DAY
LIFE
BATTLE OF THE SEXES
THEIR FINEST
A MONSTER CALLS
COLOSSAL
LION
COLLATERAL BEAUTY
SUBURBICON
THE BOSS BABY
BERLIN SYNDROME
LOGAN

Most over-rated and/or most disappointing films from 2017

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
JACKIE
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
VICTORIA & ABDUL
THINGS TO COME
THE SNOWMAN
A CURE FOR WELLNESS
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY
LOVING
A SILENT VOICE
ALONE IN BERLIN
TRESPASS AGAINST US
GOLD

The highlights in films from 2017

Hong Chau’s character in DOWNSIZING
The uniquely hand-painted visual experience in LOVING VINCENT
The extreme slo-mo’s in HOUNDS OF LOVE
The development of the relationship and the first intimate scene between Elio and Oliver in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
The atmosphere and the battle sequences staged in DUNKIRK
The real footage of a tightrope walk between two mountain peaks in MOUNTAIN
The final dinner table scene in THE BEGUILED
The car chase sequences and the music score in BABY DRIVER
A reaction from a particular water monster in THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
The birthday party sequence & guest arrivals in TONI ERDMANN
The visual and aural experience in GHOST IN THE SHELL
The dialogue and its delivery from Tiffany Haddish in GIRLS TRIP
The final action sequence on the ice in Iceland in THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS

Best horror film

GET OUT
(A clear stand-out, however if that’s not scary enough for you, then try out IT COMES AT NIGHT, HAPPY DEATH DAY and IT. None of these films managed to scare me though!)

Best crying film
A MONSTER CALLS
(Even though its title suggests this belongs in the above category! Not the first time director J.A. Bayona has claimed this spot at the end of the year. THE IMPOSSIBLE was his previous movie)

Best lol film

PERFECT STRANGERS
(However, if you want something more mainstream, then try GIRLS TRIP)

Best love story or romantic film

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Most unique/strange films

THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER
MOTHER!

Highest Grossing Film – Worldwide

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
($1.26 Billion)

Highest Grossing Film – In Australia

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 
($36.3 Million)

Compiled by Moviedoc
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THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

Director
Yorgos Lanthimos
(THE LOBSTER, DOGTOOTH)

Stars
Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan, Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic

Fresh from their impeccable appearances in Sofia Coppola’s excellent erotic drama THE BEGUILED, Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman star in this new psychological thriller/horror from the director of the 2015 arthouse hit THE LOBSTER, Yorgos Lanthimos. Coincidentally, both this film and THE BEGUILED were nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and each took away separate award wins, with THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER earning the Best Screenplay (a tie with YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE) prize.

Successful and renowned cardiovascular surgeon Dr Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) lives in a beautiful home with his ophthamologist wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and their two children, teenage daughter Kim (Raffey Cassidy) and twelve year-old son Bob (Sunny Suljic). At work, Steven is occasionally visited by a fatherless teenage boy, named Martin (Barry Keoghan from DUNKIRK), who he acts as a mentor for. As Martin’s visits become more frequent and his behaviour turns rather menacing, Steven’s personal life simultaneously begins to fall apart.


The sublime execution from Lanthimos at creating a bizarre world that is built within the commonalities of everyday society brilliantly procures every ounce of darkly odd humour it can derive and is an easing brewing of masterful psychological intrigue. What makes this fascinating world so curiously bizarre are the vocal mannerisms and the often random, off-centre & unorthodox dialogue that is exchanged by every character that inhabits the film. Being in the presence of such unworldly people in a familiar world sure as heck succeeds at gaining 100% of your attention!

Once the background concerning these characters’ pasts is formed and their future trajectories become increasingly bleak, which unfold together, THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER becomes an evermore transfixing experience. Now, that aforementioned psychological intrigue has assumed a much more ominous tone as the film evolves into the genre of true psychological horror. To this extent, THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER is a near masterpiece. Though there is no decline to its boundless psychological and atmospheric properties, all that hinders this film from earning all-round genuine excellence are some major flaws (particularly during its finale) in consistency that are needed for the validation of what is ultimately being sold.

3 ½ stars


Viewer Discretion
MA15+ (Strong themes)

Trailer
THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER

Moviedoc thanks Madman Entertainment for the in-season pass provided to watch and review this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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THE DESERT BRIDE (LA NOVIA DEL DESIERTO)

Directors
Cecilia Atán and Valeria Pivato
(Feature film debut)

Stars
Paulina García and Claudio Rissi

This Argentine-Chilean production set in Buenos Aires stars Chilean actress and theatre director Pauline Garcia (better known as Pali García) as Teresa, a house maid who has worked for the same family for several years.  When that family announces their plans to sell their home and move away from the Argentinian capital, Teresa’s life is faced with an uncertain future.


An Un Certain Regard Award and Golden Camera Nominee at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, THE DESERT BRIDE is a reasonably absorbing film by way of its seamless integration of subtle and heartfelt characterisation and a beautifully nuanced performance from Pali García. The screenplay earns appreciation from observing the simple interactions of Teresa that lets viewers see the kind, lonely and reticent woman that she is. Once this understanding has been garnered, the direction that Teresa’s life takes throughout THE DESERT BRIDE has its moments of genuine concern, joy and light poignancy that continue to engage. 

At just 78 minutes, THE DESERT BRIDE is a gradual paced minor film that isn’t without meaning and is worth seeing.

3 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion
TBC

Trailer
THE DESERT BRIDE (LA NOVIA DEL DESIERTO)

Moviedoc thanks Asha Holmes Publicity for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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LOVING VINCENT

Directors / Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman (THE FLYING MACHINE and feature film debut, respectively)
Stars/ Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Saoirse Ronan, Helen McCrory, Eleanor Tomlinson and Chris O’Dowd

Almost every review of LOVING VINCENT you’ll read will begin by informing you that this is the first-ever oil painted feature film to be produced. This beautiful and befitting testament to the troubled yet supremely talented artist, Vincent van Gogh, was always going to be a unique film experience. Now, it is also certified brilliant.

Taking place one year after the death of van Gogh, Armand Roulin (Booth), the young son of a postman, is tasked by his father (O’Dowd) to personally deliver a letter to Theo van Gogh, brother of Vincent. Once Armand arrives in a small town outside of Paris, he begins to speak with several of the locals who share conflicting stories of their involvement and views of the famed artist. As Armand continues to learn about the truncated life and fascinating background of Vincent van Gogh, his curiosity to discover the truth behind the artist’s mysterious death deepens.

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Using the same technique as Vincent van Gogh himself, over 100 artists have contributed to the 65,000 frames of oil painting on canvas that have been captured in the final cut of this film. To say that LOVING VINCENT is worthy of our appreciation, as we sit down and absorb what must have been a most time-consuming and extremely meticulous method of movie making, is a gross understatement. It is deserving of utmost praise. First shot as a live-action film with actors then hand-painted over frame-by-frame in oils, LOVING VINCENT is striking to view with its dazzling paint job of a vast array of characters performed on-screen by a recognisable and predominantly UK cast.

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The extent of its guarantee to mesmerise is never solely limited to its visual capabilities. An utterly engrossing storyline prods and probes into the possible and probable contributors that may have caused the ultimate and untimely death of Vincent van Gogh. The clearly articulated screenplay, which questions the doubt that is exposed behind potentially false claims, holds every statement accountable to the truth. As its lead character searches for honesty, the writing offers precise education of biographical events with grounded reasoning in its examinations. Minimal but sufficient background concerning Vincent’s childhood and family members is shared and forms a critical part of comprehending the mystery behind his psychological imbalance and final decline. Furthermore, LOVING VINCENT emphatically closes all trains of thought it justifiably opens. A sublime film.

4 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion/ M (Mature Themes)

Trailer / LOVING VINCENT

Moviedoc thanks Madman for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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GOOD TIME

Directors / Benny and Josh Safdie (HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT)
Stars/ Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Necro, Taliah Webster, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Barkhad Abdi

At the conclusion of its final credits during a screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, GOOD TIME was the recipient of a six minute standing ovation where it was also selected to compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or.

In New York, two brothers, Connie and Nick Nikas, attempt to rob a bank that does not go according to plan and results in Nick (co-director and co-editor Benny Safdie) being taken to a Riker’s Island holding cell. Desperate to free his mentally challenged brother, Connie (Robert Pattinson) turns to extreme measures, including his older girlfriend Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and a bored teenage girl, Crystal (Taliah Webster), to obtain the bail bond required for his brother’s release.

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An outstanding score, a career-best performance from Robert Pattinson and extremely well thought-out writing ensure that GOOD TIME is more than worth your dime.

An independent American crime drama, GOOD TIME admirably allocates ample time to its lesser details and characters, enriching them on its way to becoming a cut above its mainstream counterparts. Aside from the Nikas brothers, all other characters are only briefly seen. However, with all small part players being written with characterisation that’s as colourful as the film’s neon design, they won’t be only briefly remembered. We see many movies belonging to this genre that either omit, skip or conveniently contrive connecting points to pull off their heist and reach the finish line. Not GOOD TIME. This film earns further positive recognition in just that area. A heist scene that is as riddled with tension as any other you’ll see, a timely twist and a more than satisfying conclusion are all ideal examples to give of the astute writing and execution of this immersive film.  Audiences are constantly left in the dark as to what the next turn in this tale could be and where this will lead to.

GOOD TIME is necessary to see in cinemas, purely to gain the full experience of the award-winning electronic score by Daniel Lopatin, best known under the recording alias Oneohtrix Point Never. It truly is a stand-out.

3 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (Strong violence, coarse language, drug use and sex scene)

Trailer / GOOD TIME

Moviedoc thanks Potential Films for the link to watch and review this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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FINAL PORTRAIT

Writer & Director / Stanley Tucci (BIG NIGHT, THE IMPOSTORS)
Stars/ Geoffrey Rush, Armie Hammer, Sylvie Testud, Clémence Poésy and Tony Shalhoub

FINAL PORTRAIT is an enlightening retelling of Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti’s (Geoffrey Rush) numerous attempts to complete his portrait of young American writer and art admirer James Lord (Armie Hammer). It is 1964 in Paris when Alberto makes the flattering offer to draw his friend James, who is spending a few days traveling the French capital. Told from James’s perspective, FINAL PORTRAIT follows the trials and tribulations of both men as the neurotic artist battles both artistic and personal problems in this biographical comedic drama.

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From even his childhood years during the early 1900’s, Alberto Giacometti showed a keen interest in art. The life events of this post-impressionist artist that occurred from then to the timeline depicted here have surprisingly never been told in a feature length picture. However, they certainly deserve to be (and hopefully will be) someday.

Better known for his on-screen work, writer/director Stanley Tucci focuses on several days in the latter part of Giacometti’s life, in this moderate yet finely made film. Content with regularly and casually observing rather deeply exploring any of its themes and characterisations, FINAL PORTRAIT is an undeniably lightweight film that has tendencies to sometimes meander and linger in repetitiveness. Nevertheless, those who fancy this edited snapshot will take a liking to Tucci’s piece of work courtesy of the director’s firm handling of a basic story and peculiar characters, the reasonable pace over a short duration that has been applied and a terrific performance from Geoffrey Rush (who knew he could speak French!?). These aspects of the film keep this UK production a serviceable one.

3 stars 

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Viewer Discretion/ M (Mature themes, coarse language and nudity)

Trailer / FINAL PORTRAIT

Moviedoc thanks Transmission Films for the screening invite to this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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